The new general secretary of the PSOE in Madrid, Juan Lobato (36 years old) opens the doors of his chalet in Soto del Real to EL PAÍS. Sitting in the garden, you can see the footprints of his two children, a girl and a boy. There is a third on the way. Perhaps that is why he passionately defends that the PSOE has a future, and raises his project to regain the hegemony of the left in the region, now in the hands of Más Madrid, and fight for the regional presidency against the PP of Isabel Díaz Ayuso in the elections of 2023.
Question. Will he run to be the PSOE candidate that disputes the regional presidency in 2023?
Answer. I have not decided that. When the time comes, I’m not going to hide. At such a difficult time, if I think it’s the best for the game, I’m not going to get out of the way. Quite the opposite. At this time it is not necessary to decide, but I assume my responsibility. I take a step forward in this process [de las primarias a la secretaria general] to take charge of the game in a complex situation, not to get out of the way.
P. When the elections come, will you allow the national leadership to make the lists or put the candidates from the main constituencies?
R. We have very clear ideas. I understand very well what the PSOE is. The PSOE is a federal party. And in a federal party there are autonomous positions of each federation. Madrid is a unique federation, due to the economic, social, cultural conditions … it has. Therefore, it has to have its own political position, clearly, and contribute it to the federal project. And a political action of its own. And if the PSOE in Madrid assumes the responsibility of having its own political position; to say what he wants for Madrid; to have a well-defined political action, forcefulness, permanent supervision and political alternative in the Parliament of Madrid; and it has leaderships, there is no one here to come, neither to put programs on you, nor to direct campaigns for you, nor to make lists.
P. That’s a no? Will you not accept interference?
R. It is not interference. Obviously a federal party has common strategic objectives and the PSOE of each federation coordinates with the federal party.
We are going to direct, define and execute political action from the PSOE of Madrid
Juan Lobato, secretary general of the PSOE-M
P. Would you accept being directed to the campaign, as happened in May?
R. That’s not going to happen. It is not going to happen because we are very clear about the strategic objectives. Define what model we want to offer, have a political action work, based on the constructive forcefulness of the Ayuso government’s control, and have leaderships that are at the time of their life in which they want to dedicate themselves with 100% intensity to this political task. Therefore, we are going to direct, define and execute political action from the PSOE of Madrid.
P. “The situation is serious, there is a risk of having a non-priority role.” That’s what he said when he presented his candidacy. Do you maintain the diagnosis?
R. It is an objective diagnosis, it is the result of 4-M, the worst in history. You have to be fully aware that this is the situation. The more serious the situation, the more effort must be made and the more it is necessary to refine with the proposals for change. It is important to be clear about the diagnosis and not cut ourselves off.
The PSOE has not had the flexibility and pace to follow social evolution
Juan Lobato, secretary general of the PSOE-M
P. Not cut into what?
R. Do not cut ourselves into being self-critical and aware of reality.
P. And what is the balance of that process?
R. I think the biggest problem we have had is the disconnection that we have generated with the social majority of progress in Madrid. This disconnection has been due to not having the ability to be flexible, adapt and be permeable to the rapid changes that have occurred in Madrid. So much has happened in Madrid in the last 20 or 25 years, of cultural, sociological, economic, demographic changes … that the PSOE has not had the flexibility and pace to follow this social evolution.
P. Does it mean that the PSOE has become outdated in Madrid?
R. One of the great challenges we have is to modernize, of course.
P. I mean, yes.
R. It is not only old-fashioned in the political positions and programs, which have been very good, but a bit in the way of doing politics, which is also a message in itself. In being able to have a rhythm and forcefulness according to the reality of the moment, which is not the same as 30 years ago. And that lack of speed, and of understanding those rhythms, is difficult to describe, but very easy to perceive. It is one of the problems that has generated this distance between the progressive majority in Madrid and the PSOE.
The PSOE has become outdated not only in the political positions and programs, which have been very good, but a bit in the way of doing politics, which is also a message in itself
Juan Lobato, secretary general of the PSOE-M
P. Would the best way to perceive it would be to look at what the PSOE, and then Más Madrid, does with respect to the same issue?
R. The first thing to perceive it is to see the data of the electoral result. If among those under 40 we are the fourth political force, it means that we have not had that capacity to identify and adapt to reality, especially in those young sectors, which are the most dynamic.
P. The candidate in the last three autonomous regions, Ángel Gabilondo, was not a regular user of Twitter, and probably did not handle Twitch or TikTok. Do you have responsibility for the PSOE to have separated from young people?
R. Ángel Gabilondo led us in 2015 to be one seat from governing, and in 2019 to win the elections. It was an attractive profile for progressive society, also for the young woman. It is true that these last two years, very complicated to do politics due to the pandemic, as a party we have not known how to have that connection. Through using new platforms? Well of course. But also that modernity in the approaches and in the way of doing politics is not only using Twitch or TikTok, but the very way in which you do political activism, in which you visit the territories, the intensity that you put in the parliamentary debates.
P. What do you mean?
R. The parliamentary forcefulness that we have had these two years, compared to what we have to have … has to be much higher. I pose for these 19 months [hasta las elecciones de 2023] a model of constructive forcefulness, which means monitoring up to the last millimeter of Díaz Ayuso’s action in Parliament. And the next minute, an alternative and solvent social democratic proposal. That forcefulness is very important.
P. What would you copy Diaz Ayuso?
R. What I value the most is the ability to interpret and identify with the general mood at a unique moment in history in which we were all depressed, fed up [por la pandemia]. He has been able to offer a light behind which, in my opinion, there is nothing. It has based everything on one thing that did not exist.
P. And Mónica García?
R. In the previous stage, the pace of work, perseverance, and their ability in a very specific aspect, such as health. Now they have another dynamic. They have changed the rhythm. The attitude of forcefulness they had [en Más Madrid] so permanently now they are not having it.
P. What legacy has the outgoing Secretary General, José Manuel Franco, left you?
R. An essential inheritance to be able to take the leap that we have to take now. For the first time in 30 or 40 years we have achieved an organically united party in Madrid, with absolute loyalty, in which everyone feels a participant, in which there has been no friction of any kind between the referents.
What I value most to Ayuso is the ability to interpret and identify with the general state of mind at a unique moment in history in which we were all depressed, fed up. He has known how to offer a light behind which, in my opinion, there is nothing
P. Hasn’t any of that been broken in these primaries?
R. It has been a white collar campaign.
P. Will he have his rival, Javier Ayala, mayor of Fuenlabrada?
R. I raised it during the campaign. He is a giant, a clear reference for the PSOE in Madrid. And there are very valid people on his team who are also at the time of their life in which to get involved in such a gigantic and exciting challenge.
P. What will your team be like?
R. Parity, intergenerational … and from there, a generation that we take on the challenge at the worst moment, at the most complicated, to step forward and throw ourselves into the game.
P. Everything indicates that you will replace Hana Jalloul as parliamentary speaker. Will you have it?
R. It is a huge asset. He has just entered the federal Executive. I need you to help us.
P. But will the roles be changed for you to replace her?
R. It has to be decided by the political leadership that leaves the regional congress [de mediados de noviembre]. And it is not an isolated decision: you have to make decisions about institutional, organic, spokespersons …
Hana Jalloul is a huge asset. He has just entered the federal Executive. I need you to help us
P. How will you guarantee that in the next primaries there will be a woman in a position to fight for the general secretary?
R. We must create spaces in which women lead strategic issues. In my political leadership, my idea is that the main strategic and political positions are held by women.
P. Are you worried that the primaries have been decided by fewer than 8,000 voters, and that only half of those who could vote have mobilized?
R. One thing is to choose the leaderships within the party, and another the leaderships of candidates for elections. We have the experience of Valencia and Barcelona, with processes open to citizens. It is an interesting process, it serves to link people, but it is one more example. In our model, every two months there will be sectoral meetings open to the public. Those systems of openness of the party, of participation, are key in this new stage in which a new activism is called for.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.